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Janssen too good a player to be left warming the bench

How much longer will head coach Mohamed decide to allow the Dutch striker to ride the bench?

Monterrey v Queretaro - Torneo Clausura 2020 Liga MX Photo by Andrea Jimenez/Jam Media/Getty Images

In a poor Saturday night outing vs. their northern rival Santos Laguna, Rayados de Monterrey were barely able to squeeze out a 2-2 draw thanks to an 89th minute goal by defender Daniel Parra. After a promising start to the match, dominating the first quarter of action with a Nico Sánchez goal to show for it, everything turned upside down for Monterrey. Players became static on the pitch, wingers had no interest in making runs to the byline, Layún continued his abysmal decision-making with the ball, Maxi Meza couldn’t finish a play, and the team basically relied on Pabón’s outside shooting which wasn’t enough.

After 20 minutes of no offense in the second half and four dangerous Santos approaches which could’ve ended in goals, Rayados were lucky to still be even at 1. Finally, Mohamed came to his senses. Dutch star Vincent Janssen was subbed in for Maxi Meza, marking his official Guard1anes 2020 debut, giving the offense sudden new life. Five minutes into the game, a dangerous counter-attack found Janssen’s feet, which he one-touched to Layún, leaving him wide-open coming down the middle. Unfortunately, the Mexican fired a weak shot on the ground which rolled straight into keeper “Flaco” Acevedo’s hands.

In the 85th minute, down by a score, “El Toro” received the ball just behind midfield and ran it all the way down to about ten yards outside the penalty area, looked up and fired a left foot pass beauty to Pabón who was unable to get enough zing on his shot. Even in the dying minutes of the match, after having a pass intercepted, he ran after the ball, caught up to his rival and poked the ball away. Sheer guts.

What does the Dutch striker bring to the table? Rare pass attempt misses. Constant movement on the pitch. Extreme vertical play. Great runner with and without the ball. Dangerous and powerful shot taker. Guts, guts, and more guts when he loses the ball or when being asked to defend. On Saturday particularly, he was the reason Rayados regained an offensive edge in the game. This guy does it all at a very high quality.

It’s no secret to anyone who knows anything about Rayados that Mohamed clearly has his favorites on the pitch, and there is no way he moves them aside. Such players I’m referring to include Nico Sánchez, Miguel Layún, Rogelio Funes Mori, and Maxi Meza as of late, no matter how good or bad they may play on a given night. And while it’s understandable Janssen rides the bench until he reaches the necessary fitness level due to his COVID-19 after-effects during mid July which caused him to miss the first two games of the season, there is no way he can be left out in favor of players such as Layún or Meza, even if that means sacrificing on the wings.

We all know there isn’t a single alternate universe where Funes Mori is benched in favor of “El Toro,” and with the modern soccer world evolving back into using a single Centre-Forward, there isn’t much space for Janssen, unless of course Mohamed switches back to a dual CF formation, which could certainly work. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see Janssen play just behind Funes Mori and serve as a link between the midfield and forward? So, why insist on Layún? Why insist on a weak version of Maxi Meza? Janssen has more than earned a starting spot on this championship-caliber, yet lazy and complacent squad. More than anything, he brings toughness and grittiness on a night-in and night-out basis, and that’s exactly what you need to motivate a lackluster team like this. I saw more heart from him in his 25 minutes of play than the rest of the team combined in the 90 minutes on Saturday. If they don’t give him a shot in the starting lineup soon, it wouldn’t be surprising he looks to play elsewhere come December.